So after writing the article about how to calculate the GRE percentiles I started thinking about why ETS doesn’t list a percentile ranking for the total score, and I realized that they have good reason not to. To realize why they don’t do this you have to think about what specialties use the GRE, which is pretty much every area. The GRE is used for those who want to go on to graduate studies in English, Math, Psychology, International Relations, Anthropology, Geology, Biology etc… etc… With such a wide range of students taking the test that have an equally wide range of interests it makes sense that the GRE wouldn’t make a composite percentile score that bunched all of these people in one basket. To illustrate, when a person who is planning on applying to graduate school in English takes the test they really don’t have to worry about the math section since most English graduate programs don’t pay any attention to the Math section. Since these students don’t need to do well on the Math section, and usually don’t study for the math section, it wouldn’t make sense to compare these people to those who want to go on to study mathematics. Making a total score percentile would do exactly this, compare two groups that shouldn’t be.
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